I learned something invaluable some years ago when my oldest was about 5 years old. There I was sitting in a parenting class when the instructors went over a list of developmental stages and what tasks kids could do at what age. According to this list 6 & 7-year olds could do their own laundry (wash, fold and put away), take out trash cans, sweep AND mop, make their own beds and on and on.
I don't know that many 5, 6 and 7 year olds are given the power to do all that they can on their own. I suspect today's parents do WAY TOO MUCH for their children, and sure, they mean well. Who doesn't want to continue to be in service to their growing babies? I get that. Yet, this must stop if children are expected to head off to college by 17 & 18 yrs. old and independently thrive.
There's a common trend today where many kids actually make it through college with parents still paying their bills, doing their laundry, and fixing their problems. Those same kids (now adults) are graduating college, yes, but are they ready for life? Some of these early 20-something college-grads come home disempowered and unable to do much for themselves because they've never really had to. Even worse, they aren't necessarily inspired to get after it, find work and thrive.
This is a very real issue. I recently met with a parenting coach who talked about how his client base was shifting. I figured his clientele was typically new parents with young kids. Turns out he's dealing more and more with a large sector of parents who have issues with their young-adult children coming back home after college, doing very little to find work and become truly self-sufficient. These parents are looking for guidance, frustrated, and hoping to mend an issue that started many years prior when their children were quite young.
If we want to raise successful, self-sufficient, independent adults we must begin when our children are YOUNG! Sometimes VERY young. I have a 4-year old who is the queen of "I have to do it by myself!" This natural desire in her is nurtured and never stifled. Sure, things aren't always easy when she insists on making her own bed, breakfast and dressing herself from a-z because this takes a lot of time and patience for me to not quickly jump in and do things for her. Often the result feels a little chaotic, but she's doing all that she can on her own. She's empowered to do for herself and learns not to use mom and dad as a crutch. She's learning at an early age to fend for HERSELF! Now, our 7-year old is a different story. He'd love to NOT do his own laundry, take out the trash cans out before trash day, or make his own bed.... but he does... because he CAN and we LET HIM!
Besides, I sure as heck don't want our children back on our couch post-college graduation! In my book, these children of mine get to leave the "nest" once and only once (here's to hoping and praying that turns out).
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